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Baked Ziti


CaliPoutine
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Whenever I go back to Florida, I always order Baked Ziti( with Ricotta) . I've been eating this ziti since I was a kid, as the restaurant has been around since 1973. On the other hand, my sister will NOT order it because she tells me how easy it is to make at home.

I've tried making it numerous times and it never tastes the same as the stuff I can get in a restaurant. When I make it, the ricotta all but disapears.

Is there some method that I'm missing?

eta picture

This was taken a couple years ago. I ordered it again 2 weeks ago and the portion was a lot smaller!!

gallery_25969_665_18699.jpg

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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You really have to punch up the flavor of the ricotta and mozz with lots of salt and pepper, nutmeg perhaps...a great tomato sauce helps too. And as Sam says - way undercook that ziti.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Undercook the ziti.

Use béchamel (I don't see a lot of ricotta in that picture, but I do see plenty of béchamel).

There is no bechamel sauce in that ziti. What you're seeing is tons of melted mozzarella.

Then, where is the ricotta?

--

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Undercook the ziti.

Use béchamel (I don't see a lot of ricotta in that picture, but I do see plenty of béchamel).

There is no bechamel sauce in that ziti. What you're seeing is tons of melted mozzarella.

Then, where is the ricotta?

Its there, its under the mozzarella. I mean, its mixed in, but you can still discern ricotta. When I make mine, I can barely even see it. I usually use a 16oz container for 1lb of pasta. My sister told me to add an egg, but I dont think I've ever done that.

I'd like to make it again this week so any suggestions are welcome.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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The only other suggestion I'd have other than béchamel (which I always use) is to make sure you use a high quality, dense ricotta. If you can't get something that comes out of the container in crumbles rather than blobs, drain it overnight. Then measure the drained ricotta for your recips. It could be that your ricotta disappears because it's too watery -- in other words, you're adding too much water and not enough cheese.

--

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use wayyy more cheese than you think is humanly possible. a little extra sauce keeps it from drying out, too. I use fresh (when I can) Italian spices to pump up the flavor and plenty of freshly ground s&p.

even still--sometimes it's awesome, sometimes it just kinda is.

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I usually mix the pasta with the sauce and 1/2 the mozzarella and layer with the ricotta:

Mix all the pasta, 1/2 the mozz. & sauce, put 1/2 the pasta mixture in your baking dish, layer the ricotta (I mix with 1 egg and italian saesoning into the ricotta) in blobs, top with the rest of pasta & finish with the rest of the grated mozzarella.

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Is this the same restaurant that makes the awesome calamari? If so, call them and tell them who you are and ask for the recipe . . . the worst that they can say is no!

I don't make ziti very often but when I do, I use the method described by lcdm. I add roasted garlic and plenty of herbs to the ricotta and I never use low fat cheeses. The low fat cheeses do weird things in the oven. Are you using whole milk ricotta?

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use wayyy more cheese than you think is humanly possible.  a little extra sauce keeps it from drying out, too.  I use fresh (when I can) Italian spices to pump up the flavor and plenty of freshly ground s&p.

even still--sometimes it's awesome, sometimes it just kinda is.

I have to agree with that. More ricotta. As my mom says, "Keep adding till it looks right," but she rarely buys less than 2lbs. :biggrin:

Edited by Allura (log)

Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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Is this the same restaurant that makes the awesome calamari?  If so, call them and tell them who you are and ask for the recipe . . . the worst that they can say is no!

I don't make ziti very often but when I do, I use the method described by lcdm.  I add roasted garlic and plenty of herbs to the ricotta and I never use low fat cheeses.  The low fat cheeses do weird things in the oven.  Are you using whole milk ricotta?

Yep, its the same restaurant. Mario the Baker in Sunrise, FL. I honestly never thought about asking them, and yes whole milk ricotta.

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I usually mix the pasta with the sauce and 1/2 the mozzarella and layer with the ricotta:

Mix all the pasta, 1/2 the mozz. & sauce, put 1/2 the pasta mixture in your baking dish, layer the ricotta (I mix with 1 egg and italian saesoning into the ricotta) in blobs, top with the rest of pasta & finish with the rest of the grated mozzarella.

I tried it this way, with blobs of ricotta and that didnt taste right at all. They just kinda stayed there in big blobs.

I'm going to try draining the ricotta and see if that helps.

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don't use polly-o. that's a start. try a different brand or get your ricotta from a real dairy. Season the ricotta with salt. stir some mozerrella into the ricotta. then stir that into the marinara. then toss that with the noodles and bake...with more mozz on top...good luck.

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I agree with your sister - add an egg to the ricotta. That is how I make mine. A little parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup fresh) and fresh herbs as well to the 16 ounces of ricotta.

*****

Its there, its under the mozzarella. I mean, its mixed in, but you can still discern ricotta. When I make mine, I can barely even see it. I usually use a 16oz container for 1lb of pasta. My sister told me to add an egg, but I dont think I've ever done that.

I'd like to make it again this week so any suggestions are welcome.

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There's a recipe in the Cook's Illustrated Best Make-ahead recipe cookbook.

Some interesting things

undercook pasta, as mentioned by others here.

use some of the cooking water along with the sauce and sauce the undercooked pasta.

Add some olive oil and salt/pepper to the ricotta

The pasta and cheeses are not mixed together as much as they are layered in the tin.

For my family, I do cut back a bit on the cheese quantities called for in the book but that's just my taste.

The cookbook provides quantities for making ahead and freezing as well as for making for large groups and dividing for small groups. Interestingly, the ingredients are not simply multiplied. (This is actually the only recipe I've ever made from the cookbook but everybody in the family likes it so the book has more than paid for itself in terms of how often we've made this. )

I googled around and found this variation on the basic recipe which didn't call for any real meat or meat substitutes.

variation on Cook's Illustrated Make-ahead zita

jayne

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  • 7 months later...

Cook's latest issue( March/April 09) has a new recipe for Baked Ziti. They nix the ricotta in favor of Cottage cheese and heavy cream. I wont be making it anytime soon( weight watchers) unless I get a catering job. I'm interested though, very interested.

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The old ricotta vs cottage cheese controversy- I really think it's a matter of personal taste and preference. I prefer cottage cheese myself ( I know, the shame, the shame...) and I also undercook the ziti, and add garlic and fresh herbs. My secret though is to add pesto to the tomato sauce, this adds a certain richness that I love. Only use fresh Mozza- dice it into cubes for the body of the ziti and then in slices for the top for its ozzy melty goodness. Hmmm- time for a trip into town...excuse me...

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The old ricotta vs cottage cheese controversy. . .

The fundamental difference between ricotta and cottage cheese is that ricotta is produced from the second curdling of whey from which curds have already been extracted, whereas cottage cheese is from the primary curdling of milk. Homemade "ricotta" is actually homemade cottage cheese.

A salient practical difference is the fact that you can get much better quality ricotta than you can get cottage cheese.

--

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I always objected to the texture of ricotta, until I ran it in the food processor. Works the same way for cottage cheese, especially when you add eggs, cream cheese, sour cream or what have you to the ricotta or cottage cheese.

I saw that ziti recipe in CI today and thought of you, Randi. Even though I'm not hot on tomato-sauced pasta, this one is calling my name. Actually it's the heavy cream doing the calling, and the fact that I prefer baked pasta dishes. I love the Greek dish pastitsio, but don't use the spices in it. The eggy bechamel on top is the crown.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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  • 1 month later...
I always objected to the texture of ricotta, until I ran it in the food processor.  Works the same way for cottage cheese, especially when you add eggs, cream cheese, sour cream or what have you to the ricotta or cottage cheese.

I saw that ziti recipe in CI today and thought of  you, Randi.  Even though I'm not hot on tomato-sauced pasta, this one is calling my name.  Actually it's the heavy cream doing the calling, and the fact that I prefer baked pasta dishes.  I love the Greek dish pastitsio, but don't use the spices in it.  The eggy bechamel on top is the crown.

I made the baked ziti today( from Cook's). Before I froze it( for a party I'm catering next Saturday), I took out a bit and baked it off. Omg, too die for!! So good. The sauce is a bit tangy for me( I left out the basil, will add after the larger portion is cooked) as I'm used to san marzano tomatoes. But, still very creamy and delish. Way better than any other baked ziti I've ever made. I'd love to make another recipe so I can eat more, but I wont. I used Wegman's cottage cheese and Whole milk mozzarella. I only cooked the pasta for 5 min too.

I can't stop thinking about........ It was that good.

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